When We Feel Unworthy of Being Loved

When We Feel Unworthy of Being Loved

 

Maybe it’s a silly notion. Though I’m sure we’ve all felt it.

 

Unworthy. Undeserving. Afraid of not being enough. Not good enough to be loved.

 

Because deep down, we know we’re not truly “good,” in and of ourselves – and that’s a terrifying thought. But that fear doesn’t have to destroy us.

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Crushes + True Love: Twenty-Seven Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Twelve

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

 

Part of what makes teenagers so complex is our emotions. When we’re young kids, we feel pretty much three things: happy, sad, and angry.

 

And then by the time we’re twelve or thirteen things really start to change – and we feel things like infatuation (which we can often confuse with love) and deeper emotions like stress and anxiety that confuse us so much, especially as young teens.

 

Like most people my age, I started noticing myself and others more, and was curious about boys, crushes, dating, and true love.

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Dear Reader: You Are Beautiful

 

Dear Reader_ You Are Beautiful

Dear Reader, you are beautiful.

 

When you wake up in the morning and slip out of your bed, you are beautiful.

 

When you stand in front of your mirror, with hair disheveled and shadows under your eyes, you are beautiful.

 

You are beautiful in your pajamas, the ones you hope no one will ever have to see, with skin blemished, covered in acne or freckles or wrinkles.

 

Your hair is frizzy, skin is bumpy, and your body’s discolored – but you are beautiful.

 

That person in the mirror – the one you criticize for your imperfections, will into being thinner, pinch into being prettier, make up to cover imperfections – that person is the one that God loves.

 

God loves the person in the mirror without nice clothes, without a status or title, without a nice scent, without makeup or product or styling.

 

God loves that person because He is their Creator. And that person is you.

 

Don’t believe the lie that being beautiful doesn’t apply to you. Don’t believe the lie that says you are not enough. Don’t believe that you couldn’t possibly be loved, that you could never receive the free love that God gives.

 

Dear Reader, I beg of you, please do not fall prey to the misconception that you are the exception. God sees you as beautiful because He sees His Son’s perfection inside of you, radiating from every part of you.

 

He sees you as beautiful because He looks at your heart; that same heart that He has made as pure as snow and called holy and blameless.

 

1 Samuel 16:7b

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

 

He sees you as beautiful because you were made in His image.

 

Genesis 1:27

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

 

God has made you with care and wonder.

 

Psalm 139:14

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

 

And you are beautiful because God promises it.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:11a

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

 

As you stare at yourself in the mirror, curling and straightening and setting your hair, applying powder to your face to hide your scars and blotches and bumps, and dressing in the perfect outfit, remember that you are loved regardless of it all.

 

Remember that God sees you as beautiful, and loves you in spite of all your imperfections.

 

You were created in love, given a beautiful life to live, and a blank slate that God is using to write His story.

 

Forget the pressures of who everyone wants you to be, and come to your Father – blemished, messy, and exactly how He wants to see you: as you.

 

Friend, never forget that you are beautiful, and that you are loved. You can do nothing to change this truth, for everything you are is loved by the One who invented you.

 

He imagined your personality before you existed, and He called it good. He knew your thoughts before your parents knew you, and He loved you.

 

Never doubt how God feels about you, Dear Reader. He loves you, and He calls you beautiful.

 

*aj

3 Things We Should Expect God to Do

3 Things We Should Expect God to Do

As Christians, we hear this command a lot: “Pray.” When bad things happen, what do we do? We pray. When we don’t know what to do, we pray. When we need something done fast, we pray as hard as we can and get others to do the same.

 

We treat prayer as though the more we do it, the more God will hear us and do what we want.

 

But have we perhaps considered that it’s not always about what we want?

 

All the time, I hear people say, “Expect God to work.” I absolutely agree. He is all-powerful, He is sovereign, He loves us unconditionally, and desires the best for us.

 

But that doesn’t mean that we expect Him to accomplish everything we want.

 

In my life, I’ve found this. While I could pray this:

 

 “God, I want _____ thing, and because I know you can do all things, please give _____ to me.”

 

I’ve started praying like this:

 

“God, you know that I want _____ thing. If that’s Your will for me, I pray that You would allow it, but if not, I pray that Your will would prevail.”

 

So do I expect God to work? Absolutely. But I don’t expect Him to only work in the ways that I might expect.

 

So what should we expect when we pray?

 

  1. Expect God to hear us when we pray, no matter what.

 

We don’t need to use high and mighty words; we need to tell Him what is on our minds. He desires for us to know Him as He knows us. He has created us and wants us to have a relationship with us; not because we are great, but because He is.

 

1 John 5:14

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”

 

  1. Expect God to accomplish His will.

 

When we pray for only what we want, we can miss out on finding joy in God’s bigger, greater plan. And in looking at the big picture, do we want what will benefit us temporarily, or what will benefit God’s Kingdom eternally?

 

That seems like a vague rhetorical question, and I know that we all want to say, “I want what will benefit God’s Kingdom!” but it’s not an easy thing to say. It’s hard to desire God’s will when what we want just seems so good. Really. I have a hard time letting go of what I want and grabbing hold of what He wants at times.

 

However, I have discovered that the more I read the Bible, get to know God, and love Him more and more, the more my desires seem petty. Oh yes, there is still some appeal. But when I see how God led the Israelites through the Red Sea, I am awed at how great His power is.

 

When I see how He worked out Joseph’s imprisonment for the good of Egypt, and when I see how Jesus was crucified for us, enduring the pain of Hell, I see that even in our excruciating circumstances, God still works. Maybe not always in the ways that feel comfortable to us, but in the ways that He knows are best.

 

Proverbs 19:21

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

 

  1. Expect God to act out of His love for us.

 

God is not a tyrant, nor is He unjust. When we pray for His will to be done, we’re not asking for some Great Cosmic Mystery to unfold, but a wise plan from our loving Father. He doesn’t “send” anyone to Hell; their sin does. His desire is to save all who would come to Him.

 

2 Peter 3:9

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

 

When we prioritize His will over our wants, we’re surrendering our desires to God in favor of something infinitely greater than us. We’re not happy-sapping ourselves; we’re allowing ourselves to be filled with joy because God truly is at work and He truly does have a plan.

 

So what should we expect from God? We should expect Him to answer our prayers with His infinite wisdom, whether we agree with the answer or not. We should expect Him to work in His own way in situations that seem impossible. We should expect Him to work in ways that are genuinely best for us.

 

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

 

*aj

Why I Don’t Talk Much About Repentance

Why I Don't Talk Much About Repentance

This week, I’ve really had something on my heart.

 

After reading a blog post on the importance of repentance, and realizing I tend to avoid the topic on my blog, I decided it best for me to explain my reasons behind not talking about it much.

 

I am not anti-repentance. For us to let go of our pride and accept what we know we could not earn – salvation – is a truly powerful thing.

 

However, I believe that we Christians often overemphasize the teaching of repentance where it really does not belong.

 

For starters, Hebrews 6:1 refers to repentance as an elementary doctrine. Elementary means simple. Baseline. Something that’s a building block.

 

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God[.]”

 

This verse in Hebrews tells us to leave the elementary doctrine of repentance. I believe this is such an important point, and I’ll elaborate in order to explain what I mean, though it seems confusing at first.

 

When we get saved, we’re usually told to repent of our sins (though I believe it’s more accurate to tell people to acknowledge the fact that they’re sinners, not to repent of every sin they’ve ever committed). We’re told to repent and receive forgiveness. But that’s not all.

 

We’re then told that when we sin, we must confess it to God in order to stay right with Him.

 

But wait a minute. I don’t see how that’s actually accurate.

 

We believe that Jesus died to pay for our sins, right? And we believe that He was the perfect sacrifice, covering every single one of our wrongdoings: past, present, and future, correct?

 

When we put such an emphasis on repenting for every one of our sins, we underscore ourselves. Going with the idea that we must apologize to God for every sin we commit after we’re saved, does that mean that if we die without confessing our last sin, we’ll go to Hell?

 

I know we don’t mean this, or I surely hope we don’t. What about what Jesus said, in John 10:28?

 

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

 

No one will snatch them out of my hand. That, my friends, is assurance of salvation. That when we put our trust in Jesus for salvation, we cannot lose that.

 

When we put such an emphasis on ourselves, and on making sure we don’t sin without confessing it, we forget about God’s grace.

 

Do we remember what Galatians 2:20-21 says?

 

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

 

Paul points out a few imperative things here.

 

1) Sin’s controlling power does not live any longer, for it is Christ’s righteousness that lives in us.

2) We live by faith, not by ‘trying harder.’

3) Our right-standing with God is not through us obeying the law; it is by grace. For if it were, Christ died pointlessly.

 

What’s the central message of this? Living under grace. God knows we’re not perfect, and that’s why Jesus came! For what other reason would He have come to earth? To be a ‘good moral teacher?’ No!

 

If we put such an emphasis on post-salvation repentance, we disregard God’s grace. We disregard the fact that when we received salvation, the righteousness of JESUS HIMSELF was poured out on us. Our sins have been removed from us completely.

 

See, the Bible even explicitly states it in Psalm 103:12.

 

“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

 

Colossians 2:13-14

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

 

Have you ever forgiven someone for something they’ve done to hurt you, but they still apologize profusely, even after you have assured them that it’s all good? When that happens with me, I just want to say, “Chill out! I forgive you, and we don’t need to keep revisiting what you did. I don’t hold it against you; can we move on?”

 

I think we forget that it’s a bit like that with God.

 

Jesus has forgiven all of our sins. God has pardoned every last one of them. By forcing people to repent of every sin (the ones that Jesus’ blood has already covered), we minimize the power of the cross.

 

We make it about us, instead of making it about Him.

 

And while I definitely have more to say on this, I’ll leave you with this thought in closing:

 

We are forgiven already. Let us move on from stressing repentance, and let’s stress His grace instead and see how important it is to live filled with the Spirit.

 

Come back on Saturday for part 2, where I’ll be digging deeper into what repentance should mean for us, and how to live in grace in a biblical sense.

 

*aj

4 Truths About Doubts and Questions (and why they’re not as bad as you think)

4 Truths About Doubts and Questions

 

I’ve been wrestling with some tough questions these past few months. In this post, I’m not going to try to answer them, because I know I don’t have all the answers. However, I’d like to present some truths regarding what doubts are and how we can deal with them.

 

  1. You are not alone in your questioning.

If you were to ask everyone about whether they believed everything they were expected to, you’d be surprised at their answers. I promise, as much as we can know the answers, it’s not always easy to believe them. So before we try to hide that we can question aspects of our faith – for example, “Is God really for me? Is He really good? Am I really never alone?” – we should know that there are, in fact, other people in the world like us that question the same things.

 

However, that doesn’t necessarily make the doubts right – it just means that other people wonder the same things as us. If two people speculate that the grass is red and the sky is yellow, does that make them right? Absolutely not. They’re just confused together.

 

Similarly, when we doubt and realize that other people think the same way we do, that’s a good thing because we can relate to others. But when we doubt and conclude that because someone else agrees with us, the voices of doubt must be right, we’re looking at it from the wrong perspective. Questioning with others lets us breathe in the fact that others are like us, and not that we’re automatically correct. This leads into my next point.

 

  1. Doubting is not a sin.

Doubt isn’t wrong, and questioning isn’t sinful. What doubts can do is lead us to discover what really is right. Finding support in others with similar doubts is a good thing because it allows us to look for answers alongside like-minded people. Doubting isn’t wrong in and of itself. However, if we stay in a point of skepticism, we can stunt out spiritual growth. This, however, can be resolved through the following point:

 

  1. Times of questioning should be utilized to help us find answers.

Instead of shoving down those voices in your head, address them. If I’m doubting whether God loves me because something terrible has happened to me, I shouldn’t try to deny that. Instead, I should go to the Bible and find the truth for myself.

For instance, look at Romans 8:37-39.

 

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

While I love this passage, and it tells me about the love of God, I want to be shown.

 

So let’s look at John 3:16.

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

 

In this, my (hypothetical) doubt of God’s love slowly diminishes. When I can look to the Bible and see clear proof that I am loved, as much as doubts can still stay, it’s a little easier to believe that I really am loved. I don’t mean that the Bible is the end-all-be-all of doubt. I know that we can read the Bible for years and still not fully believe it. Trust me, the Bible doesn’t make all our doubts go away, but our doubts do not undermine the truth of God.

 

  1. God does not expect us to live in blind faith.

Christianity isn’t about believing crazy “facts” that we pretend make sense. It’s about believing a rather reasonable truth – that God created the world, gave us free will, and we chose sin; because of our sin, He sent His Son to forgive us of our sin by dying and rising from the dead, and by believing that He was the perfect sacrifice for us, the only One who could pay the price for our sin, we are saved.

 

But He gives us the Bible and He gives us the Holy Spirit. He will reveal Himself to us when we seek Him, and gives us the proof of Jesus on earth for us. He doesn’t leave us to wander in the dark; He wants us to know Him. He wants us to trust Him.

 

It’s normal for us to encounter questions in our faith. It’s healthy to question in order to find out what truth is. However, we cannot live in a state of unbelief. Belief is the center of our faith, and faith is not possible if we stay cynical or skeptical.

 

In Mark 9, we read about a boy with an unclean spirit who is brought to Jesus to be healed. Let’s read a little bit of that passage.

 

Mark 9:21-24

And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!

 

When we doubt, instead of giving into skepticism, let us dig for truth and exclaim, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

 

Instead of letting go of our faith, let us find the answers to our questions, and seek God to help us believe them.

 

*aj

Christmas is Love.

Christmas is Love. 

This is part 2 in my impromptu Christmas series. See the first part also, Peace on Earth.

 

World,

 

As we approach Christmas, we reminisce over many things. Some material items, others ideas. So much do we relish the idea of love.

 

I love Christmas music. Honestly, I do. I love all kind of music, but there’s nothing more heartwarming than beautiful voices singing songs we know and love, and everyone celebrating Jesus’ birth – whether they know it or not.

 

It’s really cool.

 

Love is a prevalent theme in so many Christmas songs. Turn on the radio and you’ll hear,

 

“Last Christmas, I gave you my heart…”

 

“Baby, all I want for Christmas is you…”

 

Yeah, yeah, I get it. Love is wonderful and complicated and all that. Christmas can be a romantic time.

 

However, I think we overemphasize the wrong kind of love at Christmas. People, we have the rest of the year to sing love songs. Romance is a thing, but it only exists because of God’s amazing love for us, His children.

 

And where did love first come from?

 

CHRISTMAS! (Didn’t see that coming, did ya?)

 

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

 

1 John 4:7

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”

 

This is ultimate love because God sent His Only Son to us. Not just to chill out on earth as a baby, but to die for our sins.

 

I stated a minute ago that love is a huge focus at Christmas. Romantic love, namely. I have a speculation as to why this is so.

 

When we look at the Baby in the Manger, that’s all we see. We see the Baby: meek and mild little Jesus. Is that exciting? Many of us think not. So, “Christmas is a time of love” – well, that’s what sells merchandise. “It’s the holiday season” – warm and fuzzy feelings envelop us. Or maybe it’s the sweaters? Regardless, we idolize love at Christmas time because it feels so right – and our culture embraces it wholeheartedly.

 

Our society has gotten used to looking at the manger and stopping there. This, I believe, is why so many of us miss the whole meaning of Christmas. We see Jesus, and politely comment, “that’s nice,” while distractedly browsing the latest StuffMart catalogs and making wish lists.

 

We don’t see the significance of the manger.

 

The Christmas story isn’t made up of one night in a stable with Jesus, Mary and Joseph, some angels, and shepherds. It is the kick-off of the GREATEST game-changing events in history – ultimately, where our sins are forgiven once and for all.

 

Isaiah 9:6

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

 

Jesus was born to demonstrate God’s love for us. His love for us sinners, at our darkest hour. The Baby was only the beginning. We shouldn’t stop there and say, “Oh, Jesus, how cute. Can we open presents now?”  Because that isn’t what it’s about.

 

Can you picture an Almighty God, Holy Creator of the Universe, seeing His sinful children and saying in spite of their rebellion, “I love them and I want them to know Me”? That’s what Christmas shows. That He DID say that to us and we know that because of Christmas.

 

This is love.

 

1 John 4:10

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

 

His love is the model for us. True love is His unconditional love for us, when He had every right to be angry with us and could have just wiped us off the face of the earth.

 

As we celebrate Christmas this year, let us approach it with the right view of love. Not with selfish I-wants and Give-me-thats, but with a heart of gratitude for the love that we should be celebrating.

 

The love that makes us sing in the first place.

 

Thank you LORD, for Your amazing love.

 

*aj

God Fell In Love With Us? Oh. Right.

God Fell In Love With Us? Oh. Right.

Clichés drive me crazy. Especially those Christian ones.

(Sorry, that was an abrupt beginning.)

There are a lot of cliché phrases that go around in Christian circles, especially ones that take the place of solid theology.

There’s a way of thinking that goes around, even from pastors(!). It goes something like this.

“God fell in love with His people, and so He sent His Son to die for us!”

So, God fell in love with you?

“Fell in love”?

When I think of falling in love, I think of romance with out someone’s own consent; a relationship that “just happened;” a love formed of SURPRISE! emotions, and basically the first half of Taylor Swift songs.

So when I think of God falling in love with us, I think of an emotion. An impulse. Something that had to do with our performance.

But right here in the Bible, we know that we are horrible, sinful, wretched sinners.

And it was then that Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

That blows my mind, and shows me something amazing.

Love is a choice.

God did not fall in love with us, He chose to love us.

1 John 4:19

“We love because he first loved us.”

I know, this is such a simple concept. But it’s really important to note.

Because once we realize that God’s love for us is a conscious choice, it makes it so much sweeter. Nothing we could ever do could make us deserve God’s love. That is just so incredibly amazing to me, that He chose to love us, at our absolute darkest.

When I understand His love, I want to show that love to others. I want to inhale His grace and exhale His forgiveness! I want to be so full of Him, that when I tip, love pours out.

Even when tough things come along, I know that God’s love is stronger than everything. He didn’t have to love me. I did not deserve it in the least.

I’m a broken and utterly flawed human being. I deserve eternal punishment. But God had mercy on me, and extended grace to me.

I find that to be the most awe-inspiring and mind-blowing thing ever.

I’m caught between wanting to fall to my knees and worship and wanting to run to my roof and scream that Jesus saves. I will write until the whole world hears…

JESUS CAME TO SAVE YOU! REGARDLESS OF YOUR PAST, PRESENT, OR FUTURE! FORGETTING YOUR REPUTATION, THE MISTAKES YOU’VE MADE, AND WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW.

JESUS WILL SAVE YOU, JUST ACCEPT IT! BELIEVE AND RECEIVE.

And there’s my little speech.

God didn’t fall in love with us, He chose to love us.

Even though we’ve turned our backs on Him, His love still stands.

Even though we can’t repay Him, His grace still extends to us.

He does not want to see anyone perish.

2 Peter 3:9

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

*aj